This morning I took the turner out of the incubator. A day later, as usual. Good thing I got it done first thing this morning, because 2 eggs had already pipped, and now? This:
First little turkey has emerged! Pretty excited fr this year’s hatchings. I have 24 turkey eggs in here, with 13 guinea fowl eggs. The other incubator has 14 turkeys that I started 2 weeks later. And that’s the whole of our hatching for this year. Tho, I still have a ton of birds coming from the hatchery on the 31st….so it’s not like there won’t be a bunch of bebes around. Still waiting on the ducks to lay, but at least they’re back in their yard, not in my garden. 🙂
Got through another blizzard. Rain/snow comin’ this weekend. Feelin’ like the winter that never wants to end. Donkey horse did this to herself:
I’m sure she had one helluva headache after that. She sure was grumpy with me when I poked and prodded it. lol Someone had to poke at it and see how bad it was. 😉 Good thing it’s not fly season or sunburn season, otherwise she’d be even unhappier with me.
This week I’m firing up the incubators. No chickens this year. Got no roos left. Sadly, in the hellacious winter of 21/22, I lost all my roos to shitty weather and a respiratory infection that blew through my coops like crazy. So only turkeys. And a few cross bred ducks…and guinea fowl…both of those I’m picking up from a FB friend who asked if anyone was interested in some to hatch out. Um, yeah! Haven’t managed to have ducks hatch in the incubator (came close with a couple muscovies but they quit a week or so before they were due) and never had guinea fowl, so, for free eggs? I’m willing to give it a try. Now we let our duck hens do the work, because muscovies love, love, love to hatch bebes. And aside from late season nests, I’m happy to let them.
I’m currently up to 15 turkey eggs to hatch. Today we discovered, much to my chagrin, that one hen we thought was a hen turned out to be a tom. So Oscar (my main tom) has only 6 girls instead of 7. I’m just hoping that the newly discovered tom stays subservient long enough that we can get him to a better size for the freezer. 2 breeding toms is plenty and I don’t have enough hens to give Dingus any right now, so keeping a 3rd tom is just not gonna work. Plus, toss in the whole avian influenza thing going on, selling a live bird right now is more of a pain in the ass than normal…plus, we like turkey, and we let these jerks breed so we can eat the extras, so…
Tomato seeds are popping up through the dirt. I’m getting ready to sow a few more. Only have 36 little cups (though each cup has more than 1 seed in it and I’ll pot up any extras that come up from those multiples…except for the San Marzano…I only had 10 of those seeds, so 1 per cup) and that ain’t going to be nearly enough tomatoes for us. Tomatoes is like beans…I could plant an acre of ’em and that *might* be enough for us. 😂😂😂 All my other seeds that I ordered, have come in. Hubby is just picking up bits and bobs here and there when he’s at the feed store or the hardware store. Mostly adding to the carrots/beets supply of seeds. We go through a lot of both.
And that’s us. We’re just waiting on spring to really and for truly get here. And for hands in the dirt/building season to begin. YeeHaw.
In 3 weeks I’m going to traumatize the turkeys. Again. In 3 weeks they’ll get a deep cleaning of their hut (with weekly spot cleanings in between now and then) and deep, fresh straw added. Then, in 3 weeks, I’ll start collecting eggs for the incubators. Right now the eggs are being washed and eaten (because yummmmmmmmy!!).
Right now, my brooders that Hubby built me last year are all under snow. So we’re not ready for itty bitty birbs. Yet. But in 3 weeks… We’ll be closer to getting them ready. So I’ll set eggs, and in the 4 week time it takes for turkey eggs to hatch, we’ll have those brooders ready for bebes. Which is good, because at the end of May I have: 10 pekin ducklings 10 lavender orpingtons 10 black giants (regional variant of Jersey Giants) 5 white geese and 25 white turkeys to pick up from the feed store. So yeah…Ima need those brooders.
And by the end of May the muscovies will be laying and hopefully some of the hens will be already sitting nests. If not, then soon. I can’t wait for aaaaalllll the leetle bebe birbies to be here! 😍😍😍
This year my incubators are staying off. Aside from the odd turkey eggs, that is. The last few years I ran them constant from February to the end of June. Hundreds and hundreds of leetle birbs hatched. This year? Oh I just can’t do it. We need to overhaul some coops, and bring in new bloodlines. I could look for new roosters now, but the coops aren’t set up for a quarantine area, and there’s just too much snow to build something.
Instead, I ordered from the local hatchery some Lavender Orpingtons and some Black Jersey Giants. Both dual purpose, large sized breeds. So with 10 of each due to arrive on May 31st (with some white turkeys, a handful of geese, and 10 pekin ducklings) we’ll begin the rebuilding of our egg/meat flock with dual purpose, hardy breeds.
I will say, our flock had been doing great, until the wild and crazy weather patterns bounced all over the place. We couldn’t keep the moisture down in the coop, and that led to respiratory issues, and even with treatment, we still had too many losses. 😦 So yeah… Coop overhauls will happen this spring, before the leetle birbs arrive, and then we’ll go from there.
Meanwhile, Oscar is a dancing fool for the ladies.
And I’ve been getting eggs here and there. We’ll see if any are fertile (next time I have a fried egg sandwich 😂😂😂) and in the beginning of May, if there’s signs of fertility, I’ll set some in the incubator. If I can get a few more of the Narragansetts hatched out, I would like that. But I’m not buying hatching eggs for them this year. Maybe next year, if I can make the deal work with my Hatching Egg Lady. 😉 She also has Lavender Orps and Black Copper Maran chickens, so next year I might splurge and buy a few dozen of those eggs as well, to continually bring in new genetics. And, like us, her family eats extra roos, so she’s not breeding them to be little birds, but big, hardy dual purpose producers. Like the breeds are supposed to be.
So all of that to say, I’m excited because yesterday I officially ordered our spring chicks. 36 days to spring. I am ready! (I hope)
January goes by so slow. It’s cold. Today isn’t supposed to be *as cold* as it has been. In fact, the rest of the week is supposed to be much less cold than it’s been. I’m happy about that. We have a new-to-us washing machine coming tomorrow. I’m so excited about that! Since the beginning of August, I’ve been doing laundry with the wringer washer outside…now until it started getting cold, it was kinda nice. Set up a load to wash, putter in the garden ’til it was ready for rinse. Then Fall came, and weather turned, and then we moved the washer back to the garage. And then I’d wash clothes in the garage. Oh, but then came the c-c-c-cold days where the washer couldn’t even run because it was just too cold. That was at Winter Solstice-ish. So for the last 3 weeks or so, I’ve been doing laundry by hand in the tub. lol Yeah, well…we need clean clothes and someone’s gotta wash ’em. But the new-to-us machine arrives tomorrow. And once it’s set up, Ima wash aaaaaaalllllll da things that have been waiting because it’s been too cold to wash ’em in the wringer washer. I’m looking forward to it. 🙂
That bit of excitement aside… I ordered seeds from Vesey’s. Just got the confirmation email that all but my carrots and rattlesnake pole beans have shipped. Those are on backorder and they’ll ship them out once they get them. So, now it’s one more seed order for this spring, and I’ll be ready to go. The last seeds will be ordered from Ravensong Seeds and Herbals I’ve been waiting for a few things to come into stock before I place that order. Hopefully soon! And then everything I’m wanting to start (this year) in the medicinal garden will be here… I tried to limit what I ordered because I don’t want to do too much all at once and get overwhelmed. That is easy af to do! lol
Not much else new. Just hunkered down, waiting for the snow to melt. Shoveling, moving snow, tending the animals, trying to stay sane in a stupid and insane world. There might be alcohol involved. 😂😂😂 But just think, in only 49 days we’ll start up the incubators to bring new life to the Farm. 49 days. And I’m eying a 3rd incubator. So we can run bigger numbers of eggs, less times. This way, I hope to be done hatching by the end of May. Not July like last year. End of July left me with far too many birds to be butchered into the beginning of December. I don’t like that. Not at all. So, bigger chicken hatches, less times, hopefully chicken butchering done sooner. And the ducks will do what the ducks will do. As always. 😂😂😂
All the plants are out of my house. Not necessarily planted, but moved out to the garden and this afternoon, I’ll put in whatever I can. And then it’s down to the weeding, watering, mulching and whatever Mother Nature decides she’s going to do…oh, and fucking cats.
This morning as I’m moving the plants out for the final time, I notice my zucchini is gone. They were lovely seedlings passed onto me by friends…they were growing beautifully. Up to 6 leaves and happy, happy, happy. And then this morning? Gone. WTF???
Yeah so, I had started some pumpkins in the house. I set those outside in the garden first, then went back for the tomatoes. I guess I didn’t latch the gate…or she climbed the fence. Either way, I came into the garden to find this asshole:
…eating the pumpkins. Seriously. Eating the pumpkin leaves… WTF??
And then I look down to the end where the peppers are and see this one…
…lying on the pepper plants. I say again…WTF???
And then, just to add a bit more insult to injury, Coal walks over to Trouble, does the nosy kitty kiss thing with him, looks straight at me and starts munching on a pepper plant.
I may have lost it right about then. Screamed like a maniac at the cats. Chased them out of the garden. Threatened to make slippers from their lovely furry fucking hides.
And now the weather can’t decide if there’s going to be gale force winds, or if there will be no winds, or what it’s doing. All I know is, it’s June 18th and the tomatoes are not coming back into the house. They can live or die as they see fit. Grow, don’t grow, what the fuck ever.
But I’ve had my first harvest of Lamb’s Quarters. And I’ll be harvesting more this weekend with weeding. And today I’ll be emptying the one incubator. Some turkeys have hatched, some chicks have hatched. And on Sunday the other incubator goes into lockdown with 41 Narragansett turkey eggs in it. Then, one last round of eggs for the year. It’ll be a big set…97 eggs. And once those hatch, it’ll be mid-July. Which makes it the last one. I am so good with that.
But for today, all I have to do is get things in the ground. Rains are coming this Sunday, so I want everything done and in. I’m so very close.
We’re in the middle of a heat wave. It’s hot. I’m cranky because it’s hot. I’m watering the garden a lot. Birds get out at dawn and stay out until dusk. I’d *love* to leave them out overnight in this heat but…someone posted on a local FB group that a black bear had been seen (with picture!) just a few miles from us. Uh, I don’t need my birds being a bear buffet. 😂😂😂 And while I’m not adverse to shooting and eating a bear, I think it’s better to not have the birds out as a possible buffet temptation in the first place. So up early to let ’em out, up late to put them away.
Still planting the garden. These are the days of beans. So. Many. Beans. But, I didn’t get enough canned last year to make it ’til this years harvest (have 4 jars left) so the bean patch is getting a bit bigger. And I keep saying we need to expand the garden more. Not even kidding. But there’s a plan that replaces last year’s plan that didn’t work out and all it’ll take is a weekend to move a pasture fence and a couple big round straw bales…wheat straw please, because I can’t grow food to feed my Kid in oat straw…unless I want to kill her…which I don’t. Obvs. But that’s a Fall project. For now, Hubby is building another brooder…that’ll be 4 for this year. 2 for turkeys and 2 for chickens. Then he can work on a refurbish of the duck one (remember, it had mold and killed off over a 2/3rds of my first hatch of turkeys. 😥 )
Things went a bit sideways with my pre-purchased plants. Trees were shorted from the order…so no saskatoons and no siberian crabapples this year. Prolly for the best, I’m running out of place to jam things…for now. Once the expansion is done, a section will be specifically for the saskatoons. Then I heard from the local greenhouse that my order was being shorted the wild hops plants I wanted because the plants didn’t make it through the winter. *sad face* So I’ve substituted chives, a couple paprika pepper plants and mortgage lifter tomatoes. I’ll get hops next year. Really, it’s all kind of a blessing in disguise because I hadn’t figured out where to put all the trees, and not even kidding when I say I’m already exhausted. 😂😂😂 But…the end of planting is in sight, so once that’s done, it’s mulching, weeding and watering until harvest begins. And feeding the bazillion and 15 birds. Again tho…we’re gonna eat good this winter. 😉 Oh! And the lady we bought our pig from last year has been in touch. I have my pig booked for pickup in the Fall. So just as I’m dropping from exhaustion from butchering birds, we’ll have another 250lb pig to do. Not to mention the bartering trade of birds for a pig from a friend. Lots of pork, lots of poultry. Now, we’ll just need a deer or two and some beef and we’re set. 🙂
2 more weeks for the Sweetgrass turkey eggs. 3 more weeks for the Narragansett turkey eggs. Then there will be many, many more turkeys. And in case anyone thinks turkey might have a wee bit of a brain, trust me, there is a reason I call them my “stupid children” Case in point:
She stood there a bitched and bitched and bitched…for a good 20 minutes…because her feet were cold. Seriously. Turkeys is stoopid. But, they are also good eating and fun to watch. Which is why I love ’em. 😂😂😂
It’s been blazing hot here the past few days, with gale force winds. So I’m a little slow. We’re all a little slow. The heat weighs you down, and then the wind strips all moisture out of your body almost instantly. Lots and lots of liquids going in the past few days, I tell ya!
Working on getting seeds into the garden before the rains come. Always chasing the waterers for the animals, making sure they have enough to drink. And trying to stay on top of the “what’s for dinner?” moments. I’m tired. 😂😂😂
But, it’s a good tired and I’m not complaining. Much.
Last week I had chance to connect with a friend who’s working on her own family’s food security. This is something that comes up a lot around here (in case no one’s noticed) because I’m pretty darn passionate about good foods, well raised foods, and not being beholden to any govt for getting access to that food. So in this conversation, we talked about the space they have for growing food animals, compared to ours. We’re not doing pigs this year. Might be a year or 2 more before we consider it. She and her partner have access to low cost culls, and have space to grow them out. We have many, many, many birds. 😂😂😂 So. Many. Fucking. Birds. And so we thought that bartering pork for birds was something to consider. As always, I worry about making sure that all parties are happy. I never, ever want to be in a barter situation where someone feels shorted…especially not with a friend. But I think if we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement (and I do believe we will 🙂 )then I love the idea of bartering. It builds community (and Lady Bless us all, we so need that in society right now!) and it gets more well raised foods into more homes. Done well it’s an excellent thing!
And then she says to me…I have 12 heritage sweetgrass turkey hatching eggs…are you interested? Um… YES!
Last night another friend dropped them off here…and her and I discussed how her daughter’s new home had so many rhubarb plants that could become wine to share amongst us all. Yup, bartering for food/wine is a damn fine thing. 😉
Tonight the eggs will go into the incubator. And whatever comes out in after 28 days will be split between two Farms. I, uh, might be a little bit addicted to hatching turkeys. 😂😂😂
Oooooh, and just because it’s amazing, and finally happened:
That my friends, is our very first laid right here on Midnight Calico Farm Narragansett turkey egg!! And yup, it’s going into the incubator with the sweetgrass turkey eggs. 🙂 My excitement was (still is) over the moon last night.
We were putting birds to bed, and when I got to the turkey yard, my Kid says “I have a present for you” and puts this egg in my hand… Oh there is no mistaking turkey eggs. None whatsoever. They are unique (among my birds at least) and so very beautiful. I may have cooed over it like Gollum cooed over the One Ring. 😉 It should be fertile…I’ve been watching the boys do their jobs for the past few weeks…hell, when we were working on the plastic around the garden, I was cheering Oscar on as he made the rounds with every hen in the yard. 😂😂😂 Horny teenager turkey. If these birds start producing a lot of eggs, I’ll be looking at a 3rd incubator just for turkeys…and another brooder. But y’know, we’ll eat really well.
And in duck news… There are many, many duck eggs lying around. Many of ’em. And I’m willing to bet even more we cannot see. Muscovies are notorious for hiding eggs and coming out just about a month later with a whole bunch of littles behind them. Based on the chirruping and berating we’re getting from some hens, there’s quite a few of our 21 girls thinking about hatching eggs. So we’ll cross our fingers to start seeing bebes in the next couple of months. For the record, I’ve tried incubating duck eggs and have had no luck at all. Followed all the directions and still had quitters. So I’d rather let the hens to the job. Means 1 less incubator I have to buy, because muscovies are a 35(ish) day hatch, where chickens are 21 and turkeys are 28. 35 days is a long time to tie up an incubator for no return. 😦
But if we have an abundance of hens hatching, that will give us some ducks to barter as well. And steak birds is good eating. 😉
Back when Hubby, The Kid and I were thinking about how many meat chickens to order, we thought we’d settled on 50, like last year. And then, something picked at me and told me that wasn’t enough. I’ve been alive long enough to have learned to listen when my gut says something to me. So I ordered 75 of the little nuggets. And 10 white turkeys.
I figured with the success of our Narragansetts from last year, I oughta be able to get 10 whites to Freezer Camp size. I sure the eff hope so, because things have not been going well with my Narragansetts I hatched this year. My excitement over 16? Dashed, because we’re down to 5…and may very well lose them as well. Fuck.
Y’see, turkeys are very delicate. Yep, even heritage breeds. Even though the heritage breeds are tougher than the whites, they’re still delicate little things. As we were awaiting hatching, we evicted the ducks from the brooder, gave it a deep cleaning, sprayed it down with cleaner, thinking we were good to go with our poults. Welp, as it turns out, there was mold starting in the floor. I say again…fuck.
Turkeys are susceptible to mold. Even when us humans don’t know it’s there, have no fucking clue it’s there…turkeys will be doing great, bopping around like crazy birbs, eating, drinking, pooping beautiful turkey poops…and then just drop dead. Because their little lungs are that effing delicate.
So after the loss of 6 we thought “huh, this is more than just weak poults not making it”. Hubby and The Kid whipped off another brooder like the last one I showed y’all…metal floor for ease of cleaning, fresh new walls, lid that’s easy to lift for air movement and a door for easy access that doesn’t let heat out… Then, The Kid and I put fresh straw in, and I crawled into the old brooder to catch our remaining poults. That’s when I found the mold…under the straw, the wood was wet. And there were small fuzzy spots. Fuck.
Now we have the last 5 in the newly built brooder, nothing is in the old brooder until it gets torn apart and maybe refurbished…but it might just be scrap now. Fuck. I mean, we can’t really complain about it, if we have to scrap it. The brooder was here when we bought the place, it’s successfully raised near onto 500 hundred birds…but I hate that I found out this way that there was a problem with it. I hate that it’s costing little lives. 😥 That’s what kills me.
If you scroll through the pictures, you’ll see the size of the white turkeys, compared to my Narragansetts. The whites are a day old in the picture, the heritage birds over a week! They’re all getting along beautifully. I’m actually hoping that the whites will give the heritages enough impetus to keep fighting to stay alive. There’s really no treatment for mold exposure. Fuck. But I’ve got them on high protein feed, clean water with vitamins, a bit of brown sugar and apple cider vinegar twice a day, clean fresh bedding every other day, and today they got some mashed up hard boiled eggs with the vitamins mixed in. I’m trying my best to make the best of a shitty situation. While hoping that my turkey hens start laying soon…because goodness knows, the boys are doing their jobs. The very second I see eggs from the hens, I’m whisking them off to be incubated!
I’m going to bet dollars to donuts, that the second my incubators are full and working on chickens again, that’s when those turkeys will start popping out eggs…and then I’ll end up having to buy a 3rd incubator just for turkey eggs. 😂😂😂 Because that’s my life…chaotic, crazy, and always learning.
I’m quite excited that my peppers are at the point of needing to be transplanted. This is exciting to me because, even though there is snow on the ground outside, the garden will soon enough be filled and growing. The problem is always those seedling trays. What on Earth is with them blowing holes in the corners all. the. time? I get it, they’re not the sturdiest of plastics, but why doesn’t someone make a sturdy, hard plastic version? I have said I would happily pay more so that I don’t have to re-buy them every season or two.
Yesterday, in our nearest small town, Hubby went into the hardware store to see if they had seedling trays. Well, they did, but for some strange and ridiculous reason, they had drainage holes in the bottom. Um, does the manufacturer (in this case Jiffy) even understand the usage of the trays? *sigh*
But, The Kid and Hubby came up with a fix, so that I can get the peppers transplanted:
Yeah, that’s a drawer. And that’s gonna work out juuuuuuuust fine! But this is what manufacturers need to do. Make us trays that are rugged and sturdy like this drawer. We serious gardeners would *happily* pay more for them. And let’s be honest, not having to ditch those flimsy ones every year or two and replace them would be a helluva lot better for the environment.
In other news, tomorrow is day 25 for the turkey eggs. Tomorrow we take the turners out of the incubator, raise the humidity and wait…anxiously, for the turkey chirp, chirp, chirps to begin! Still haven’t seen any eggs from the girls in the turkey yard, but that’s okay. Last night I had to carry 3 of them back to the yard because they thought they should escape and go to bed with the chickens. 🤦♀️🙄 Um, no my poor silly birbs. What I did notice is that they have the tell tale signs on the backs of their heads that Oscar and/or Dingus are doing their job(s). So hopefully soon, but even if not until next year, that’s okay too. Good breeding stock is worth the time and investment, and these guys are quality birbs. ❤